Help me be clear on whether I'm grass-is-greening, or if its time to move on from my job.
October 31, 2011 11:28 AM   Subscribe

I feel like I'm in career purgatory, and it's a windowless, stuffy call center. I also don't want to throw away over 2 years of tenure and wonder if I should just learn to deal. TL;DR details and out-loud thinking inside.

A bit of history: When I was hired here the most appealing aspect of the job was that it wasn't call center work, which I was burnt out on and was headed back to otherwise. The work proved interesting, educational, and I was good at it. Clients enjoyed working with me, and praised my work directly to me and to those above me.

18 months later, I've been promoted to the senior level in the same position. It involves a bit more phone work, but the client base consists primarily of professionals, so the interactions are pleasant and productive.

Here's where it starts to go off the rails: I was asked by upper-upper management to be part of a finalist presentation to a big client they were wooing, because they felt my style of communication and demeanor as representative of our customer service would resonate well with with the client. It did, and we won the business (woo!).

I was then presented with the position to "head up" the creation of the call center for the aforementioned client. This seemed to me like a suitable reward for my previous efforts as well as those I'd put into helping set up the client (overtime, weekends, etc - all while doing my usual job) and a nice progression to my career path (I'd been a peer mentor and quite highly regarded in my previous call centre work).

New staff were hired, and I was introduced to them as the team lead on the new client. Throughout their training, I acted accordingly. After about a month of the call center being operational, my then-manager informed me they'd decided to look for someone with more experience to take the lead role. I chatted with one of the directors from head office who asked that I forward my resume to him for consideration as a team leader in my old department. They awarded the position to someone who had started with us about 6 weeks prior. Ouch.

November will be the 10th month I'll have been working as a regular call center rep. I feel totally stagnant in here. I'm not learning anything; the work is completely transaction-based and uninspiring. I would never have taken this position had it not been presented as a step up, and it's just... embarrassing.

I was once asked by one of the directors if I had "settled in, or was still pissed off" about being in here. So it's basically become a joke, from what I can tell, that I'm here in the remedial class.

All that being said, I don't want to throw away 2 1/2 years. It's stressful being the new person somewhere, and it really feels like I just got settled in, here. I'm trying to tough it out, and keep thinking that the longer I do, the more credibility I build because I'm willing to do what the organization needs first. Meanwhile, I've tried taking on extra responsibilities, giving suggestions on how to improve things, etc. I'm the top performer in the metrics they look at (calls taken, call time, etc). I could be doing even more, but I'm less inclined to put myself out for promotions that don't materialize.

I have two interviews elsewhere this week and want to be succinct about this in my own mind before I try to convince someone else I'm a solid bet.

Am I being a quitter? Or is it time to move on?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps framing it this way would help your sanity:

You have two jobs. Your "day" job, at the call center, which you will do to the best of your ability.

AND, your second job, which is securing new and more hopeful employment. You need to put some personal stuff aside and work really hard on this job also.
posted by Danf at 11:34 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Freakonomics guys did a show on the upside of quitting that you really need to take a look at. Don't consider sunk costs when considering your future.

You have a simple and coherent story to give to employers - there are not appropriate avenues for growth at your company. If you are honest with yourself, you have a simple story for yourself - you can't go to work angry any more. Life is too short.

Drop the guilt, drop the baggage, and move on. Good luck with your interviews.
posted by crazycanuck at 11:40 AM on October 31, 2011 [16 favorites]

It's time to move on. You are clearly unhappy, they aren't promoting you, but are dragging you along with a carrot that may or may not ever materialize because so far it's worked to keep you there.
posted by Zophi at 11:41 AM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]

they screwed you. and chances are they knew they were doing it the whole time. this place will probably never respect you. i think you should go after those new job opportunities will full force.

2 1/2 years isn't a very long tenure, so you're not losing a lot there - it is enough time so the new jobs don't think you're just a job hopper, only staying at places for 9-12 months and then moving on.

if you really wanted to stay there, you could get an offer from someone else and then go to your manager and say something ass-kissy, like "i really enjoy the company, but i don't enjoy my job and i feel like my skills would be better utilized in a position like XYZ. i got another job offer and i'm going to have to take it, unless there's another position for me here."
posted by nadawi at 11:42 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Contra nadawi, I would caution against fishing for a counter-offer. Every tip sheet on job transitions I've ever seen has agreed that this is bad strategy. If you get an offer in hand for a position you like with the long-term picture you want, take it and don't look back.
posted by jquinby at 11:50 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can I suggest that you email the mods to ask them to make this question anonymous?
posted by BobbyVan at 11:50 AM on October 31, 2011

Go. Go far away.

It sounds like they put the screws to you and you feel like they've screwed you over. I recently (2 years ago) had the same experience at a call center. Performance review that is great over and over, dangle possibility of promotion, and then nothing. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and rest assured, the taste won't get better. Find a new job and take it.

I'd avoid playing the new job as leverage for getting a promotion in your case. It doesn't sound like they want to promote you and you will come off as desperate. This move can affect you in the future when dealing with references. Turn in your 2 weeks and leave graciously.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:51 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Two years of working at a non-unique job with ass management isn't "tenure". It's two years' experience that you will use to get your next job.

Stockholm Syndrome is no way to live, and they've already established that they can dick you around so it will never stop now. Get out.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:52 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Been there, done that. You're too valuable as a utility fielder - someone they can depend on for everything without close supervision. If they move you up, they lose that.

Tech sector is booming, you have a sterling rez and solid people skills, time to jump ship.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:00 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

"I'm trying to tough it out, and keep thinking that the longer I do, the more credibility I build because I'm willing to do what the organization needs first."

Unless you have seen them promote and reward people who have put the organization first on a regular basis, you are just getting screwed. It's unfortunately, but loyalty rarely pays off in corporations these days; more often, they think, "This existing star performer is loyal and a team player, I can give them shit jobs and bring in a prima-donna star performer from elsewhere who needs to be lured with the plum job."

And it isn't "tenure" unless there are guarantees that come with length of employment.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:02 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

I had almost exactly the same situation as you. close to 3 years on the job, call-centre consumer tech support for a major worldwide brand, consistently topping the stats boards in the two key areas. A team lead position opened up, I applied for it, they said I surprised them because they didn't expect me to be nearly so good, but I wasn't getting the job because reshuffle blah blah different requirements blah.

So I quit and went to get a degree. It's going absolutely great, and I did exactly the right thing. They're dicking you around. Sit quiet, find yourself a new path, and smile as you walk out the door.
posted by fearnothing at 12:08 PM on October 31, 2011

You are way, way overvaluing the two years you've put in here. Statistics tell us you will change not just jobs but careers multiple times over your working life. To make that working life work best for you, you need to always be prepared to move onwards and upwards, wherever that is.

Just put the best possible spin on this and find a new job. You have hands-on call center experience with great stats, and team lead and management experience you're looking to build on in your next role. Awesome.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:09 PM on October 31, 2011

Take your great narrative about how you helped your company (bring sales numbers if you can) and get a way better job with better pay and benefits and respect. When they ask, "Why are you quitting?" You can answer that you seem to be in a dead end in terms of advancement and are looking for a more rewarding atmosphere elsewhere.

The only reason to come back to your company and play the "I've got an offer" card is if you like your job there and you don't want to leave. Is there something you like other than the fact that you're no longer the new face? If they offered you better pay and a true promotion, would you be happy there? If so, I think it can be worth a well-timed conversation with your supervisor. However, don't do this if you're not prepared to walk away and take another job.

My SO did this and it wasn't a ploy. He was on contract with company X and wanted to work there however we needed benefits as mine were running out and he needed stability. He got another offer from another company with benefits but it was a startup so some drawbacks there. He went to his supervisor and said, hey, I really like you guys but I need full, permanent employment, otherwise I have to leave and go work for these guys. They gave it to him. Now he works for someone else but that's a different story. Heh.

However, your mileage may vary. My husband has a lot of chops and, frankly, people like him instantly. He's that kind of person. I don't think this would work for me as mostly people don't like me. I'm only a little joking.

Do what's best for you and don't burn bridges. Good luck! I hope your new opportunity works out!
posted by amanda at 12:40 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I quit a call center for a translation job. I was nice and kept in touch in case I needed to go back, but I left and my career has worked out much better since I left. It is just a call center, if they really want/need you, then they will make it worth your while.

When I left, they tried to make a counter-offer by promising all the overtime I can handle since they could not give me a raise or a good position. I found that insulting and left. Now I'm making twice as much and I have a lot less stress in my life.
posted by Nackt at 4:31 PM on October 31, 2011

They've already shown how far they're willing to go to reward your loyalty and hard work - pretty much not at all unless it is convenient for them.

Time to look out for yourself, polish that resume and get out there. Just remember to refrain from sounding at all negative about your current employer. It's all, "I'm looking for blah blah opportunities that capitalize on my abilities to DO THIS AWESOME THING."

And yeah, never ever go back with a job offer as counter-offer bait unless you're trying to go contract to perm. Otherwise you've just marked yourself top on the list in the next round of layoffs because despite their treatment of you, they'll only see it as a clear sign that You've Got No Loyalty To The Man.
posted by canine epigram at 6:40 PM on October 31, 2011

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